Stories for the screen bring Indigenous people together
Artistic director Tony Briggs believes the Birrarangga Film Festival unifies Indigenous peoples from around the world through story.
"When I was a young lad I remember my aunty, Hyllus Maris, who wrote Women of the Sun, went away to the (United) States and she came back talking about all the First Nations people she met and how their culture is like ours," he said.
"It's extraordinary, it's the way we tell our stories."
The Birrarangga Film Festival, a celebration of Indigenous films from around the globe, is returning to Naarm (Melbourne), from March 23-28.
Briggs, a Wurundjeri/Yorta Yorta man, is also the creative force behind The Sapphires, a story based on his mother's experiences singing in an all-female Aboriginal band that travelled to Vietnam during the war.
Bones of Crows, from Canadian First Nations director Marie Clements, will open the festival.
It tells the story of Cree musical prodigy Aline, who along with her siblings, is removed from her family and forced into Canada's residential school system and has clear parallels with Australia's Stolen Generations.
"Bones of Crows is an epic film and it's beautifully made," Briggs said.
"I find these kind of stories really fascinating because exactly the same thing that happened to our mob here happened to other mobs all over the world."
Briggs said Bones of Crows tells an important story.
"People need to understand that Indigenous children being stolen from their families was not an isolated event," he said.
"It's not some so-called 'black armband' view of history, this happened all over the colonised world.
"This story is a real testament to the strength and courage of all the people who fought against this kind of tyranny and it's also beautifully shot, so I implore people to get tickets and come and see it."
The program also features new short films by Aboriginal filmmakers, a screening of Leah Purcell's The Drover's Wife and, for the first time, a kids program, Kyindoo Wilam (Learning Place), a selection of animations and short films.
A diverse collection of feature length narratives, documentaries and shorter productions from New Zealand, Canada, USA, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Mexico, Russia, Hawaii and Australia are on offer.
"Birrarangga is bringing stories from all over the world right here to Naarm," Briggs said.
"It speaks directly to the heart of Indigenous culture and gives us all a voice."
Opening night is at the Capitol Theatre, RMIT, and includes a question and answer session with Metis/Dene filmmaker Marie Clements and a party after the screening of Bones of Crows.